Ebola toll hits 1,229: WHO

Geneva : The outbreak of the Ebola virus disease in West Africa has caused 1,229 deaths and has affected 2,240 people so far this year, according to new figures released by the World Health Organisation (WHO) Tuesday.

The UN health organisation said that between last Thursday and Saturday there were 84 more deaths and 113 new infections in the four countries affected by the epidemic - Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.

Sri Lanka criticises international pressure on human rights

Colombo : Sri Lankan External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris Tuesday said that international pressure to probe allegations of human rights violations is harmful for the country.

"Because of the intensity of international pressure, there is a disincentive to engage in earnest in a domestic process," Xinhua quoted Peiris as saying at a conference held in Colombo.

"And that is why this international pressure is not only not helpful, but is absolutely harmful."


29 trapped in China coal mine blast

Beijing : Twenty-nine people were trapped after a blast in a coal mine in China's Anhui province Tuesday.

According to rescue teams, the accident occurred at 3.58 a.m. in the Dongfang coal mine in Xiejiaji district of Huainan City, when 39 miners were in the underground shaft, Xinhua reported.

Ten workers were lifted out of the mine after the blast.

The licensed mine is privately owned and has an annual capacity of 90,000 tonnes.

The Huainan municipal government ordered all coal mines to suspend production June 30 and July 1 due to the flood season.


Nazi Noir and more: Philip Kerr's Bernie Gunther series

By Vikas Datta,

Is it a feasible idea to set a series of noirish detective novels in a totalitarian state like Nazi Germany which itself practised violence intensively against its own citizens, or even in the midst of the viciously bloody conflict that was World War II? It may appear paradoxical but even in midst of such blood-letting, there are crimes that such a regime should have solved as they have not been "sanctioned". And since a totalitarian state may not be a monolithic entity but an aggregation of competing interests, an independent investigator is needed. Step in Bernie Gunther, a worthy counterpart to Sam Spade or Philip Marlowe but with higher stakes - his American counterparts don't risk being sent to a concentration camp permanently.

Obama vows long-term strategy against Islamic State

Washington: US President Barack Obama Monday vowed to pursue a long -term strategy to turn the tide against the Islamic State (IS), as Iraqi and Kurdish forces retook the Mosul Dam from the group under US air cover.

The president, who broke his vacation on the Massachusetts island of Martha's Vineyard, told reporters at the White House that progress had been made since he authorised targeted air strikes on IS militants Aug 7, Xinhua reported.

Israel to strike hard if Gaza rockets renewed

Jerusalem: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday evening that Israel is ready to respond forcefully in case rockets firing from Gaza would renew, amid the nearing expiration of the 120-hour cease-fire truce.

"The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) is prepared to strike aggressively (in Gaza) in case the fire from the strip would be renewed," Xinhua quoted the prime minister as saying.

Gaza ceasefire extended for 24 hours: Egypt

Cairo:Egypt announced Monday that Israeli and Palestinian negotiators agreed to extend ceasefire in the Gaza Strip for 24 hours, state media reported.

"Both sides have agreed to extend the ceasefire to 24 hours, to continue the ongoing negotiations," reported Xinhua citing an official Egyptian statement, as a five-day truce was set to expire at midnight Monday..

Palestinian delegation chief Azzam al-Ahmed also confirmed the statement, saying that his delegation accepted Egypt's call for the extension of the ceasefire by 24 hours.

Obama hails destruction of Syrian chemical weapons

Washington: US President Barack Obama Monday lauded the destruction of chemical weapons stockpiled in Syria, urging Damascus to fulfill its commitment to destroy its remaining production facilities.

"Today we mark an important achievement in our ongoing effort to counter the spread of weapons of mass destruction by eliminating Syria's declared chemical weapons stockpile," Xinhua quoted the president as saying in a statement.

Israeli offensive cost Gaza billions: Palestinian official

Gaza: Israel's nearly two-month military campaign against the Gaza Strip has cost the coastal enclave an estimated six to eight billion dollars, a senior Palestinian official said Monday.

After over 40 days of an Israeli war and blockade, "the territory is now a devastated area that needs unified efforts in order to reconstruct it", Xinhua quoted Mufeed al-Hasayna, minister of housing and public works in the Palestinian unity government, as saying at a workshop held in Gaza City.

Eight killed in China house blast

Beijing:At least eight people were killed and four injured when a blast occurred in a residential building in China's Shanxi province, authorities said Monday night.

An initial probe suggested the incident occurred in an apartment, located in Changzhi City, due to natural gas leakage, Xinhua reported.